The Refiner’s Fire

Charles Strohmer has been a friend, mentor (beyond what he realises) and encourager to many over not a few years. He has focused on the Bible as wisdom for life, applying that wisdom into… OK here is a better summary written by the man himself:

For many years I worked with individuals, small groups, NGOs, institutions, and churches to think about and to develop wisdom-based approaches in areas such as education, the business world, family and social life, cultural development, environmental stewardship, and especially the arts, communication, and inter-religious engagement. I continue to work in those areas but my chief focus in recent years entails advancing peaceable wisdom-based approaches for improving international relations, with a special focus on diplomacy, negotiations, and mediation in the context of the United States and the Middle East, including Christian, Muslim, and Jewish narratives in that big context.

In the video he is speaking into the American scene as an American / as a prophetic voice. Also take time to dip into his blog:

https://wagingwisdom.com/

Seems there are many deep concerns at this time.

  • If this is a storm, or winter, or the beginning of an ice-age (I think original to Andy Crouch) what response should we make? (And it is certainly not a storm…)
  • I was on a Skype call this week to Gary, a humble prophet who travelled with Bob Jones in his final years. Gary said he has been deep in Proverbs as there has to be a download of heaven’s wisdom to show us the way forward and through.
  • On the same Skype call was Chris, working in the media, who is saying the next wave has to be for the apologist to enable a connection. Communication and wisdom… with the media holding a key role.
  • Some talk of a mega shift every 500 years. Last one being the Reformation / Renaissance etc. Here we are now 500 years on.
  • November there are USA elections. Many nations are facing issues of immense proportion, but they are all facing the same crisis – what do we do now, not to clear up the mess of COVID etc., but to prepare for what is to come.
  • I wrote a few days ago about corruption and the deep level of corruption not being that of sexual or financial abuse but of the submission into political alignment of the church. That is being exposed – and has to be. I do not consider that John’s Gospel is deeply political but right in the middle of it there is an exposure of what that false alignment does… it was the turning point to send Jesus to the cross. If that were not to happen then they feared the Romans would come and take away their divine right!

National Health Service

We cannot follow all the UK news but last night Andy Knox (a GP and consultant within the NHS alerted us to an almost non-reported bill that the UK government has just turned down the protection regarding selling off the NHS. (Here is one reference I could find:
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/mps-nhs-vote-trade-deals-brexit-a4504631.html.)

This is something that maybe could have been predicted but is somewhat ominous. Interestingly in the past three or so weeks I had been somewhat focused on the NHS and wider health issues.

(For Andy Knox’s highly insightful thoughts some of them can be found at:
https://reimagininghealth.com/.)

I wrote an email a short while back to a couple of people who are working in the NHS and reading again thought for what it is worth putting some of the extracts from that here. (I appreciate that it is very UK focused (NHS) and that I am biased toward health care for all and not on the basis of income and therefore privatised. Apologies where what I write does not apply beyond that.)

It does not matter to me too much how one defines the demonic – classically as evil spirits or as spiritual non-personal powers (Walter Wink et al.) as the effect seems to be the same! The demonic is focused on dehumanising… hence the spirit of antiChrist denies that Jesus came in the flesh; enmity was declared to be between the seed of woman and the serpent’s seed; to fall short of the glory of God is to fail to be truly human etc. For this reason I see the NHS as a major target. Health care is easy to identify as a ‘good / Jesus-like’ career – not so easy to suggest hedge-fund management in the same category! We have also had a window into a revaluing of work with the term ‘essential workers’ during this lockdown. If healthcare is a ‘godly’ focus then we should not be surprised to realise that there is a strong attack against it fulfilling its mandate. If a dehumanisation process against workers is successful they will then find it harder to humanise those they care for. Hence I see a spiritual strategy that is to demoralise, dehumanise those who care, affect the culture at the core – like planting a poison at the centre. The next step is that once humanity is sidelined from something there is an openness to mammon (I see Jesus and Judas as a key paradigm to understand the interplay of discipleship, money and also religion.)

I see at the moment for many situations a 2 year period for preparation and significant paradigm shifts, from functionality to people centredness. I have been saying for many months that 2022 is when we will hit some major global crises. COVID is a crisis, but it is also a warning to make changes so that we are ready. If institutions can make a shift it will be surprising how many can come out the other side.

If the above is accurate then there is a window of opportunity now for the NHS. There will be some real heat that comes against (and might have my terminology wrong here) – the minister for health and others in places of authority / responsibility. But for those who are a ‘lower’ level there will be in a protected place. Although the 2 years is a window there will really be the possibility of a 5 year process ahead.

I see also that there are pockets of people in place around the nation that are pulling for a new ‘spirit’ in the NHS, so behind the scenes there will be a discovery of a growing set of hubs / clusters, an unofficial network.

The NHS is important also at this time in the context of the UK. It is not simply about defending what has been and how good it was, but it is a trend setter. The UK has to find a new identity – so this is not simply about a restoration of what was but a deep renewal taking place that will give it a new identity, and become something of a sign for the nation. Hence the battle.

I was hoping that Boris’ experience might have been a Damascus road (maybe with a small ‘d’) experience. From where I sit I am not sure it has been that – Paul said he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, and the grace of God was not in vain toward him – maybe Boris has, at this point, not yet yielded. There will, though, be other remarkable events to some key people that will give further shake ups.

Power and politics

Corrupting Power

The well known adage by Lord Acton:

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.

In writing about the choice of king, the first one being Saul, there are some very interesting aspects about the move to kingship. First Saul was a humble chappie, hiding in the baggage. What if Saul had never been selected as king? Would he simply have been a friendly giant wandering the land? God then instructs Samuel to tell the people what the king will do, not what Saul will do, nor what a bad king will do! Is there the indication that once we give someone an exalted title and with it authority we really are setting them up (Lord Acton quote)?

Christendom…. Here is a great article I have just read:
https://www.redletterchristians.org/christians-dont-understand-how-horrible-christendom-was-as-is/

A quote from it:

Whenever the name of Jesus is invoked to vilify any group or nation, and whenever a pastor spiritualizes hate or weaponizes scripture to oppress others, and whenever biblical rhetoric is used to inflame nationalism and spread partisan fear, we must recognize these forms of spiritual manipulation for what they are: evil. Because throughout history, Christendom has been a favorite tool of dictators, authoritarians, and countless others who selfishly used it to harm others.

The dominant place afforded to institutional Christianity in Europe is over, resulting in either a hankering back with a cry of ‘we are being marginalised’, or a re-appraisal of what was done wrongly in the name of Jesus (without writing off the genuine missionary / humanitarian work). But now…

Is there a fresh offer coming to the fore in certain places not only to give Christians a place at the table, but to sit at the right hand of authority? If ‘Christendom has been a favorite tool of dictators, authoritarians, and countless others who selfishly used it to harm others’ is there a dangerous proposal that will simply empower dictators and autocrats to bring about oppression legitimised by the use of the name of Jesus (not to mention how lies can be first ignored, but left ignored for a length of time, falsehood will become ‘truth’).

With no offer on the table in Europe we are so privileged. No need even to hide in the baggage. Yes, probably some detox still needed as the hankering after power is so strong and insidious. Add to this the COVID-19 forced break, a call to re-positioning and I hear the word H-O-P-E. Ears and heart open I think is the right response.

Watch this space

Guard the space

No not an ad for the most amazing life-changing product that you cannot afford to miss! That product comes later when I reach a level of maturity that… OK maybe a piece of good advise is don’t wait around for that to happen as a lot of life will pass you by in the meantime.

Two spaces that I think we have to watch.

My take on COVID-19

Not going away any time soon. But it is a warning to signal that we are to prepare for what is beyond it. So right through this year and into the early stages of next we will be reading the daily statistics of the virus, then…. SPACE.

2021 will be a year when there is a relief. Welcomed by the ‘back to normal’ approach as a ‘glad that is behind us now we are back where we were’. But I see it as a space opening up to breathe and get set with resources for the challenge of what is beyond. I do not see God as a destroyer who deliberately pulls things down – sometimes God does that when we stick God’s name on it and insist that it is here forever (see the Temple discourses in Jeremiah and Matthew 24). If God is not an automatic destroyer and also relates to us with a huge capacity to compromise then I see the relief as space to gather the resources for the post-COVID (not suggesting that is the right term) period. 2022 will have somewhere in it ta level of crisis that means 2021 will have been essential to give us what we need, or show that we missed it by thinking the crisis was over.

So watch the space of 2021.


Sidenote on not allowed to sing!

I heard yesterday that churches (UK and I think Spain and probably elsewhere) can meet but not SING. In the light of the dream I had from 2010 for the decade up to 2020 concerning how Christian singing shut back down the façades (https://3generations.eu/posts/2020/04/facades-no-singing-please/) I find this very interesting. If we simply complain about not being able to sing (persecution???? I don’t remember the last time I went to Tescos and only being able to buy meat offered to a variety of gods… we have it easy… or of course we can see it as all foods and goods have been offered to the god of consumerism and we have been duped all those years – take our pick but not persecution, and if it was rejoice as ‘all who seek to live a godly life will suffer persecution’). If we focus on a so-called persecution and fail to lay hold of our responsibility to be agents that should hold open what the Lord has opened to expose we will so miss it. So I see the grace of heaven coming through the legislation. Nice one.

End of sidenote!


The feminisation of the future

I am writing (I think 6 booklets) and at the moment the fourth is on the egalitarian nature of the Pauline Gospel. (One of the first revelations I ever had of the land of Spain was that there was a hidden deposit of the Pauline Gospel in the land, as no other land on the basis of biblical authority can claim to have first century apostolic prayers deposited in the land.) Anyway not suggesting I am uncovering the Pauline Gospel – if I was step aside NT, Douglas, John and a whole bunch of others that I am not on first name terms with! But I am being impacted by the Pauline Gospel, and in particular I have been knocked sideways by the terse letter to the Galatians. Some crazy stuff in there, but the absolute centralising of Jesus so that everything and anything else is blasted out of the picture. In the letter of course it is Jewishness that gets the main treatment but also in the very careful change of language of Gal. 3:28 when it comes to gender difference is so noticeable.

So the space here I suggest we have to watch is that there is coming a feminisation into society. Back in the 90s I wrote a book I was very happy with back then ‘For Such a Time as This‘ where it proposed that there were no barriers to the full participation of women at any level, including female apostles in Scripture and hence today. Happy with it (then) as any book written is a snapshot in time of where the writer was at that time. The book was saying women can and are encouraged to enter the space (and my focus back then was on ‘church space’… but back then majority space was shaped by a masculinity). Now…

There is space opening, which will affect economics, politics, commerce etc., that is feminised – i.e. a different way of operating that (excuse my ignorance) will be much more collaborative than competitive. That space will be entered more easily by women but is open to men as in Christ there is no ‘male and female’.


Maybe in all the above there are connections. If the façades coming up expose a ‘masculinity in Adam’ form of the institutions that have shaped the public square, then the ‘feminisation in Christ’ can follow. As there is neither male and female in Christ of course the language is struggling to gain any real traction. Meanwhile let’s not complain about not singing. Surely we can answer the question of ‘where then do you worship’ by normally before I get out of bed, while making breakfast my heart rises to heaven, and when I come to eat I do find a real thanksgiving rise up and…

2020 – 2022

A Two year Window

In the past days I have been on a few Zoom calls and some of what I see for the next season has been pulled on. I thought it might be of some value to put it down here, some of which in bits and pieces I have shared before. It needs of course to be weighed and if there is a projection on my part of expectations those will colour what I write. Prayer and revelation is not here to give us what we expect but what we need to enable participate in any forward God movement. Finally any sight has to be supplemented by sight from others.

In the first few days of January it became clear to us that 2020 was not going to be a year that could be planned out. It would be a disrupted year, the important part was that we could not plan as per normal but would have to respond as the disruptions occurred. For many this has been a painful year and I do not write in any way to diminish that experience; we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. I acknowledge the diversity of experiences but also want to give a focus to push against the hope of those who are simply waiting for things to return to normal. God makes everything beautiful in its time and we have to discover what it is that God is beautifying.

It is fairly self-evident that there is a RESET taking place. The concept of a reboot is vital for many sectors, and the use now of the term ‘essential workers’ has been a redemptive and perceptive phrase. I suspect it will soon disappear from the active vocabulary as a measure of recovery comes. Crisis has value if we change… if not!!

There will be a bouncing back… it is OK to go with it to a measure, but the focus has to remain on the reset. However as the bouncing back is heralded (2021?) we should not get carried away. The reset has to go much deeper that a temporary change (everything online) and then back to a thank God here comes the normal!

For those who are seeking to find what God has in this season, as opposed to waiting for this season to end, it is not so much a reboot but a reset. The vision might need to be tweaked but the vision is the vision. A refocus might be required, but it is essentially about resetting. As in many sports there comes a point that the team needs to be reset in order to achieve the desired outcome. Perhaps the format of the team, or new plays need to be introduced. We are now in a period of reset and even when a measure of recovery comes, even if we might be able to go with it to some extent, the important element remains that the reset needs to be completed.

There is a 2 year window to push through this reset, ideally if it can be done in 18 months the better. In 2022 – I do not suspect at the beginning – I see global elements of crises appearing that will bust open the cracks. COVID-19 is serious but is also a sign of what is to come, and is signalling to us now that there is a period of time in which we can get ready for this.

The reset is to check alignments. There are alignments from the past season that will quickly prove to be energy sapping for the next. An important element to avoid in this season is filling all the space. There are also alignments that have become loose that need tightening up. However, we approach it the issue of ALIGNMENTS is key in this reset.

Also get ready to change direction. There will likely be for a number of people the sudden openness of new outlets that they have skirted around the edges of before. They will come with a fresh angle / approach and then open up.

The favour of God is going to be with those who are not giving themselves to protect the structures / institutions but invest in the people. This might well mean embracing what might seem a smaller influence, but invest small and deep and there will both be longer lasting results and also protection into the phase that opens in 2022.

At the same time God is at work not simply with ‘me / us’. We are not at the centre. We can flow with what God is doing, but the future is not being shaped for us as individuals. So I suggest that there are people now who are being loosened up from their former concepts that only got them thus far. The loosening will mean fresh sight to those people and also fresh space for new connections. There are many hubs being shaped at this time… a hidden few here and a hidden few there.

Coming clean

British Past

Back in the day so much prayer was focused on specifics such as the Berlin conference of the late 19th Century that carved up Africa for the Europeans. Alongside 13 European nations the USA was also involved. Alongside specifics a large amount of effort went into ‘rolling up the Roman road’, seeking to undo the effects of empire. We had some incredible encouraging signs and yet… But now so much seems to connect.

We should not expect that all movements that seek to address the issues are going to do it perfectly. If the body of Christ does not execute her task perfectly why do we have higher standards for the world!!

So much of history is covered over. I have found again and again that history stays hidden until uncovered through prayer. Once it is out the lid cannot be put on the box again. For the Brits among us here is a good article to check up on the British and part of our imperial history:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/16/boris-johnson-lying-history-britain-empire

I am definitely not patriotic. I find that to be in direct conflict with my commitment to Jesus. I cannot give any allegiance that conflicts with my allegiance to Christ. There are of course arguments as to what was achieved through empire, the sending of missionaries etc. It has even been suggested that the ‘fullness of times’ when Jesus came was the Roman Empire, one language, roads and so the gospel could spread! The context of those verses point in a radically different direction.

God maximises all possibilities. After all he even used a king in Israel! To find some good that came through something reveals nothing about the ‘thing’ in question.

The uncovering, the reaction is not going to go away. If I can be so bold as to suggest the prayer ensures that. And once we have prayed, we cannot then push it all back in cos what came out was not what we were expecting! Prayer does not unlock what we expect, it unlocks what we need.

We have hit mid-way through this decade a governmental crisis. We have leaders who are comfortable to lie. We have hit the sign of the COVID virus that is the wake up call… behind this comes the economic crisis that will have some back and forths but will come at a new level in 2022, when as yet some unforeseen combination of setbacks will hit.

Our response? Bunker down? Or use this time to allow for some personal readjustment to line up with God’s agenda. Early on in this ‘less than pretty time’ I cottoned on to the Ecclesiastes verses that God makes everything beautiful in its time. God is never inactive, never non-redemptive. There is always activity that he is involved in.

Loads of questions in this time, but I also see it as a major shift.

Exoduses and Pentecosts

My powers of interpretation

They come round each year and, although I did not grow up with a ‘church calendar’, I always value the focus they bring. I think there were also a few prophetic words surrounding Passover and Pentecost this year. I am pretty convinced, on the basis of Scripture, that whenever a new paradigm is coming that 1) there is prophetic revelation concerning it and 2) we normally MISS the outworking as our interpretation has an algorithm that was put in place based on PAST data. (Not a good way to assess future events… but no big deal as we are in biblical company when we do this… just important that we continue to be open.)

Of course if I make the statement that our interpretation is often awry and I am about to make an interpretation all readers will instantly pick up that I am the one exception. If you picked that up then continue to read…!!!!!

I have already hinted at the content of this post in previous posts but I will try and put it out here in clearer form. There are two Exoduses in Scripture. One that took the people out from the exploitation of Imperial rule to travel to a ‘Promised Land’. The 10 commandments (words) can best be understood as 10 instructions that totally undermine the way of life that they had been subjected to in Egypt, setting them up to be a free people. Off they trot… but not all goes well. A king come along, starts humble, next one with some major faults at least is ‘after God’s own heart’, next one Mr Wisdom who subjects the people to an Egyptian-style regime, kingdom divides, king for the north ‘comes up from Egypt’ establishing two golden calves! Freedom?

Not surprisingly the second Exodus is in Jerusalem (Lk. 9:31… the word ‘Exodus’ is used). There has to be a release from the bondage of Jerusalem to travel to the world that was promised (Rom. 4:13, written by a Jew). Here we are having celebrated the ‘passover’. But which Exodus has it been? My interpretation – and remember you are only reading this cos mine is correct – is that the passover in the midst of the lockdown in 2020 marked an Exodus from Jerusalem.

And Pentecost? Could there be something in the following sequence? Last day of 19th Century and we have the first occurrence of speaking in tongues in our ‘modern’ world (from there the movement goes to the West Coast and Azusa Street). 60 years later Dennis Bennet (of ‘Nine O’Clock in the Morning’ fame) on April 3, 1960 announced from the pulpit that he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit. That marked for many the beginnings of an era when the experience of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian community was felt outside of ‘pentecostal’ settings.

1900… 1960… + 60 years = 2020.

Probably coincidental, but I have a terrible habit of making what is coincidental significant. I like that – I deeply suspect God quite likes it too. If we make it significant probably he gets on board to do something with the coincidence.

Now given that interpretations are far from fallible, and often downright unhelpful, I submit the above.

But I leave with ‘passover’ will be significant and ‘pentecost’ will be unprecedented in 2020 (or words to that effect) all come together to say although the interpretations were very suspect, there was a distinct before and after. Now that is worth pursuing even if we do so with blinkers on.

2020… what a year

A before and an after

At the start of the year as we gave ourselves to get some idea of shape into it, we realised that we were unable to do so. Sensing strongly that it was a year of disruption… how understated that conviction will prove to be!

It is unlikely we will have many people out to see us this year. Last year we hosted people for around 120 days and nights… this year? And we are not convinced we will be travelling outside either with the various restrictions. This week we had some restrictions lifted. We can now be outside during the day at any hour (previously it was before 10.00am and after 8.00pm). Yesterday no COVID deaths were recorded in Spain so the hard line has produced fruit, but for so many who have no income, or reduced income for weeks / months, so much has changed. There will be a before and an after.

Looking forward, I still maintain that this year will not be as shocking as 2022. There are ripples and major shocks this year, and currently the street voice in the US is being responded to globally (Photo at the top is of Liverpool FC taking a knee while training. Liverpool has a call to be a city of reconciliation… Cities can follow where we go.)

I am deeply grieved by what is exploding in the US. And given that north America is the child of Europe there is no way that we can look and point a finger. What we see is an image of the fruit of the past 500 years of exploitation from Europe. What is for sure is that there are crises that come to all dominating systems, and in spite of not believing in wrath in the sense of ‘personal’ when applied to God the biblical usage of the term might well be applied into this phase of Western history.

The biggest challenge is seeking to understand what it means to be those who see a new ‘creation’. That is the gift of the Spirit (pertinent as we celebrated Pentecost Sunday) and the challenge from the Spirit – what do you see?

Easy to say, not easy to embrace, but we have to look to see what God is making beautiful in this season. I, for long, have considered that we prophesy without having much clue as to what it means. The Bible is full of it, and we should not expect to do much better. I have read some of the words about ‘Passover’ and ‘Pentecost’ for this year. My only comment is that words like that are not given to confirm us to stay on the merry-go-round. I wrote a few days ago about the Exodus from where (Passover) and I believe there is a before and after this Pentecost – but the after is going to be as shocking as the fulfilment of Peter’s prophecy on the day of Pentecost. In my great and awesome writings (as if!!) I wrote that before every shift forward there is a conversion of the church to the world. Such a conversion is preceded by traversing the ground of breaking with the good that has brought us thus far.

I have been ever so tempted to write some of the prophetic statements I have made in the USA since 2001, particularly concerning presidential terms (I spoke of a time-line appointed in 2001 that was tied to the Bush presidency and that a second term would indicate extended time to idea with a root issue; in 2005 I spoke of the outcome in 2008 and 12). I have held back and will continue to do so as the Lord made it clear that we are not ‘responsible’ for that land; there are others who have to take that stand and bring the land through to a different future. Same as we have to do here. Suffice to say through that what is taking place now is a pretty natural follow on from those words.

Finally, not aimed where it might seem to be aimed. When we hold up the cross, or a Bible in certain contexts (Spain and the Valley of the Fallen) we disempower and nullify the very reality that lies behind the symbol. That is deeply worrying. It is the lie of Imperial power – the altar to peace was established on Mars Hill in the days of the New Testament in Rome. Altar to peace established on the mountain of war.

The signs are there for those who wish to look, and this is not about left or right in politics. I still hold out that when we understand the good/bad line does not run between me and you but THROUGH you and me that we can pull something incredible out of this time.

A sign of the times

The end is definitely nigh

Writing about any crisis is difficult. I am not a medic, nor a scientist, nor a historian. I read a few reports, even the horrendous statistics in Spain (though thankfully improving) but have not talked first hand to someone in Spain who has had the virus. It is easy to write when it has not been in your home. I do know people who have had it and recovered, I also know (not know of, but know) people who have passed away from the virus. So at times writing seems a cheap and easy thing to do, and maybe it is.

I am glad I am not a politician. Open up, get the economy back; keep it shut down the risks are too high. It can be easy to say, typical money over people. But in this world life is a compromise. Choices are of what is the better / best choice looking forward. Or in more theological language ‘what is the most redemptive choice we can make.’ With faith in Jesus, and eyes and voice raised heavenward that is not easy, so for those who do not profess faith and probably do not really believe in any help from heaven this is a time of huge crisis that they are seeking to help steer us through.

‘It is a sign of the times’. Read Matthew 24, and that wonderful future predicting book, the last one. Read it and how can you not join the dots. The end is nigh, for sure, this time. Well it is not an unexpected response. Remember Y2k? Computers will crash, airplanes will fall. Stock up, make sure you have enough beans (did we ever get a thank you from Heinz?). I am glad for the prophets who later apologised. Yet it got many people. Add to the Y2k that the earth is 6000 years old (splutter, splutter!!!!!). 1000 years as a day and… oh yes there is that final 1000 years at the end. Quickly count the fingers. The year 2000 and a crisis.

In my youth the writer who explained all things was Hal Lindsey. His books were fascinating. But so many signs of the times, so much so that 1988 was going to be absolutely cataclysmic, and certainly he had no expectation of being around for the millennial celebrations as the year 2000 rolled in – the blessed rapture would have seen to that, the ultimate ticket out of here! [A cheap comment that is just that… but one I adhere to. The secret rapture was such a close guarded secret that not even a whisper got out to any New Testament writer.]

All of this signs of the times of course is not new. Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus… and the writers who lived when Napoleon was marching around Europe had a field day; not to mention the days of Hitler, the rise of communism… and so it goes on.

By all means refer to the Bible to get some guidelines as to how we should respond in a time of crisis, but I just don’t think it wise to try to get the pen out with a ‘look here it is, written here some x-thousand years ago’ and then draw a line to ‘and here is what was predicted’. A little reading of history and the odds are so stacked against anyone coming close to getting it right are so high.

But a sign? For sure. A sign that creation eventually calls a halt to the abuse that those who are responsible for it have messed up. Will we take note of the sign? (And I have for some time said there is something / some things combining that will have a far greater impact in 2022.

We have entered a new era, or maybe much better to suggest we are entering a new era as it is not happening in a moment, maybe over a decade there could be a clear before and after.

Scripture says that God makes all things beautiful in its time (Eccl. 3). Does not mean that all times are beautiful, but God is working to pull something through in all times. I do not see this time as some form of judgement in any sense that might suggest God has said, ‘I’ve had enough’. And it does not mean that this time is going to be easy.

For entrepreneurs it is such a new time. The journey for former entrepreneurs might be drawn on to find some pointers but the world is changing, and entrepreneurs now are not simply going to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, they are pioneering for a new world.

There are great surprises coming with regard to where we see the Spirit at work. A while ago I spoke of three phases of any outpouring: immediate, generational and then those ‘afar off’. I think it can also be put into the big picture of Asuza Street (and the immediate years before), the charismatic into the historic churches some 60 or so years later, and then another 60 years on and here we are. Surprises, and some of what has got us here (‘we have never eaten anything unclean’) will be challenged, and not challenged in a gentle manner.

My post then is hopefully gentle. We are not exempt from difficulty. Those who survive are not the ‘goodies’ and all other ‘baddies’. We are all contributing to the future in these days. There is an era passing and a new one here. I think it is fruitless to look back to find these days in the Bible, and as we look forward we can only see as if we are looking through obscure glass.

I begin here so

Presuppositions determine our destination

Presuppositions so determine outcomes. In my first focused writing that I will be going through with a few on Sunday evening I come reasonably clean. If we start at a given point we are probably going to end somewhere predictable. So I open with a personal bio that I suggest is more a personal bias.

If I think the world is essentially a burning building with everyone inside already in danger and eventually they will all burn in Gehenna and I run around pulling people out by the hair I will be deemed a hero. If a person refuses to come, I leave them to burn and pull the next one out I will have ethically been good. A presupposition. However if I view the work of the demonic to dehumanise and objectivise people, ‘befriend’ in order to evangelise (proselytise) and move on till I find someone who was elected from all eternity (or simply responsive in time) then my partnering in the act of pulling willing people by the hair will not be seen as a heroic act but something that even-in-part partnered with the demonic. And given who God is I will still have testimonies as to how he wonderfully broke in and people found salvation. The above I have put in extreme language… but my point is that where we start will shape behaviour, our assessment of what is deemed right, and for the sake of the writing that where we start will largely determine where we end up.

The challenge of belief is not that there are many valid faiths. There are many valid perspectives but not all perspectives are equal. In sharing my perspectives I am not seeking to convert readers to my viewpoint but ot provoke a journey toward their personal convictions. I do not expect to influence (e.g.) someone with a hard line Reformed position, or someone running round with a placard saying ‘Repent the end is nigh!’.

In the mid 90s I read an article that helped explain something. It was on the shift that had been taking place within evangelicalism. Previously to be evangelical was to sit with beliefs that were within a set of boundaries. There might be a few variations within the boundaries (e.g. eternal punishing – and this is normally written wrongly as punishment – in hell, or conditional immortality – again wrongly written as annihilation) but if one was inside the boundaries one was ‘in’ and outside one was a ‘heretic’. The author went on to describe the shift as being to emphasising two questions as being central. One question was with regard to what the door was to reconciliation to the Father, and the second what was the source of authority for one’s beliefs. The ‘correct’ answers to become a millionaire to prove one was still an evangelical were ‘the death on a cross by Jesus’ and ‘the Scriptures’. So far so good! But those who belief Jesus only died for the elect, and those who belief in Universalism both respond with the correct answers. And so it goes on and the diversity of views we see today expressed into current thorny issues such as same-sex marriage simply illustrate how the ground has shifted.

With a personal bias (starting point) we are shaped by our reading of Scripture, our experiences etc., but also by so much that is internal. I was talking to someone recently who was reflecting that a colleague of theirs was reacting to what they understood to be a ‘universalist’ perspective. They reacted with ‘well if everyone is saved why should I bother to follow Jesus.’ I am not a universalist, but if my reason for following Jesus is to avoid going somewhere really nasty it surely is time for me to push a whole lot deeper in my relationship to the Lord. Beliefs reveal so much!

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